It’s here; the day Exchange Administrators both dread and welcome – the release of a new version of Microsoft Exchange Server. For many administrators, the RTM of Exchange 2013 means a lot of work ahead, and from this day forward questions will come from all over the enterprise: “When will we adopt Exchange 2013”. New features are always exciting, but with it comes new challenges.
There are challenges that are inherent in every (server) software upgrade like determining if your current hardware is sufficient, providing clients with the latest versions so they can access and use all the new features and functions and ensuring service continuity and security. This last challenge is particularly daunting as email has been the lifeblood of technology companies (and even those beyond the technology field) – for quite some time. Connections to web sites, file resources and financial services can go down and it’s certainly problematic and disappointing, but nowhere near the anxiety of an email outage.
I recall when it became apparent to me, as an Exchange engineer, that email had taken over as THE service that required the most attention. I received a call from an executive that “something was wrong with email because he just wasn’t receiving enough… he was more important than the 15 emails he’s received in the last hour. This was way down from his normal volume.” Needless to say, there was nothing wrong, except an overinflated ego. Exchange was humming along a delivering email as expected. Needless to say – the ego meter is NOT a new feature of Exchange 2013
So what does the release of Exchange 2013 mean to the enterprise (and in fact a majority of all companies, according to a study by the Radicati Group, now run Exchange)? For many it will mean new cloud capabilities that make running some or all of your email requirements in the cloud much easier than before – and therefore, a viable choice. For most it will mean new collaborative capabilities like “Site Mailboxes” which tightly integrates Exchange with Microsoft other collaboration star: Microsoft SharePoint. And for some it will mean the waiting game for SP1 is just beginning.
There’s a ton of information out there about Exchange 2013 – and lots to be excited about! I wouldn't want to repeat what you can find from many other blog posts, but I would encourage everyone to ensure their entire email lifecycle also supports the release before you jump. You have to remember that email is more than just what you're spending your days reading... there is mail hygiene(antivirus, anti-spam, etc), performance and service monitoring and all the backup, security and compliance tools required to make sure email is secure and no one is reading email they shouldn’t have access to (non-owner access to email). You need to work with your 3rd party software companies that support email in the workplace to ensure their products are ready for the change... before you make it!
So, get ready, get set…. Investigate [:)]